Showing posts with label Health Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health Research. Show all posts

6 Striking Health Effects of Vitamin D

According to Boston University researchers, between 30 to 50% of children and adults in the United States are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. While this deficiency can lead to rickets in children, in adults, it is associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and immune dysfunction.

Experts believe that sensible exposure to sun, an consumption of vitamin dietary supplements may be the best way to deal with this preventable medical condition.

The following are some newly discovered benefits of vitamin D

1. Reduced risk of Fracture - A study found that oral vitamin D supplements taken at a dose of at least 400 international units daily, were linked to a decreased risk of bone fractures in older adults. (Archives of Internal Medicine, Mar 2009)

2. Protection from Diabetes - If you consume the right quantities of vitamin D, it may protect you from diabetes or even delay its onset. Further, it may reduce complications in those who've already acquired the disease. (The Diabetes Educator, 2009)

3. Prevent Heart Attacks - If you are a man and you have low levels of vitamin D in your system, then you may be at a greater risk of a heart attack or myocardial infarction, suggests a study published in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2008 issue. Consequently, ensuring adequate amounts of the sunshine vitamin in your system via supplements may offer protection against against heart attacks.

4. Increased Girl Power! - UK researchers recently found that teenage girls with higher vitamin D levels were able to jump higher and faster than those who didn't, indicating an improved muscle performance. Boys, Watch Out! (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, JCEM Feb 2009)

5. Prevent Skin Infection - A study by San Diego School of Medicine researchers found that intake of oral Vitamin D supplements helps the body produce cathelicidin - a protective chemical present in the skin. As a result, offering protection from skin infections that result from atopic dermatitis – the commonest type of eczema. (Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, Oct 2008)

6. Protection from Death! - Well, vitamin D won't quite infuse immortality into you, but could make you live longer. Here's why. Following a review of several studies, French researchers concluded that the sunshine vitamin does lower your risk of death from any cause. (Archives of Internal Medicine, Sept 2007)

Vicks VapoRub Misuse May Harm Toddlers

Vicks® VapoRub®, the popular salve used to relieve symptoms of cough and congestion, may be harmful for infants and toddlers. New research appearing in the January issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed medical industry journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that Vicks® VapoRub® (VVR) may stimulate mucus production and airway inflammation, which can have severe effects on breathing in an infant or toddler. Research findings are consistent with current VVR labeling which indicates the product should not be used on children under 2 years of age.

VVR is not indicated for patients under age 2. However, Dr. Rubin realizes that some parents are still choosing to use VVR to relieve their sick young child's symptoms, usually rubbing the salve on the feet or chest.

"I recommend never putting Vicks in, or under, the nose of anybody—adult or child. I also would follow the directions and never use it at all in children under age 2," said Dr. Rubin.

Dr. Rubin also feels that although the study only tested Vick's VapoRub, similar products, including generic brands, could cause the same adverse reaction in infants and toddlers.

"The best treatments for congestion are a bit of saline (salt water) and gentle rubber bulb suction, warm drinks or chicken soup, and, often, just letting the passage of time heal the child." Dr. Rubin also notes that if a child is struggling to breathe, it is a medical emergency and would require the child to be seen by a doctor as quickly as possible.

"Parents should consult with a physician before administering any over-the-counter medicine to infants and young children," said James A. L. Mathers, Jr., MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "Furthermore, the American College of Chest Physicians and several other health-care organizations have concluded that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines can be harmful for infants and young children and are, therefore, not recommended."

Source: EurekAlert!

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7 Foods That Affect Weight Loss

According to NIH statistics about 133.6 million or two-third of Americans were overweight or obese in 2006. Being overweight is linked to several health maladies such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and high blood pressure to name a few.

Foods, while not the only reason contributing to excess weight gain do have a significant role to play. Other means used achieve weight change include whole food supplements, weight loss pills, physical exercise, dieting etc.

The following is a run-through of how some edibles affect weight loss or weight gain.

1. Calcium – Increasing the intake of calcium can set-off weight loss. This is the conclusion of a study that included a 15-week weight loss program, at the end of which the obese participants who consumed calcium tablets lost about 6 kg, while those who didn't lost just 1 kg. However, this worked only in people whose diets were deficient in calcium (British Journal of Nutrition, April 2009).

2. Chewing Gums – Sorbitol is the main ingredient in many sugar-free chewing gums, and it is also associated with dangerous weight loss. This was discovered after studying two patients who suffered chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain and too much weight loss, which was pinned down to eating too many chewing gums with sorbitol (British Medical Journal 'BMJ', January 2008).

But in another study, chewing gums reduced weight in a seemingly harmless way. Eating a chewing gum before an afternoon snack led to reduced food cravings via promoting fullness, and an overall reduced calorie intake, up to 25 calories. (A research presentation, 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society)

3. Grapefruit Diet – Simply supplementing your diet with grapefruit and grapefruit juice can lead to weight loss. The participants in the study who ate just half a grapefruit with a meal lost 3.6 pounds. Further, drinking grapefruit juice had a similar effect, with the participants losing 3.3 pounds ('Grapefruit Diet' study, Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic, 2004).

4. Fructose – A reduced intake of fructose can aid weight loss. Fructose is a kind of sugar that can be quickly turned into body fat. Fruits are a good source of fructose, but so are many processed foods and the sweetener high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS, which is used in many processed foods. (Journal of Nutrition, July 2008).

5. Beverages – There's a stronger link between liquid calorie intake (e.g. beverages) and weight change than is between solid calorie intake (e.g. bread) and weight change. And that a reduction in liquid calorie intake is positively associated with weight loss (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 'AJCN', April, 2009).

6. Dairy Products - Dairy products don't help people lose weight. This was the conclusion of evidence collected from 49 clinical trials from 1966 to 2007 that tested whether milk, and dairy products had an effect on body weight and BMI (Nutrition Reviews, May 2008).

7. Eggs - When two eggs were consumed for breakfast, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, the weight loss in overweight adults more, compared to those who ate a bagel breakfast containing an equal number of calories (International Journal of Obesity, August 2008).

Since, it's well-known that excess body weight is associated with many diseases, it appears profitable to invest time and money in weight loss, at least it's better than spending money on medical drugs used to treat excess weight related disorders.

Caution: High-Fat Diet Can Disrupt Your Biological Clock!

Indulgence in a high-fat diet can not only lead to overweight because of excessive calorie intake, but also can affect the balance of circadian rhythms – everyone's 24-hour biological clock, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have shown.

The biological clock regulates the expression and/or activity of enzymes and hormones involved in metabolism, and disturbance of the clock can lead to such phenomena as hormone imbalance, obesity, psychological and sleep disorders and cancer.

While light is the strongest factor affecting the circadian clock, there is a cause-and-effect relation between diet and biological clock imbalance.

In an article soon to be published by the medical industry journal Endocrinology, the researchers suggest that this high-fat diet could contribute to obesity, not only through its high caloric content, but also by disrupting the phases and daily rhythm of clock genes. They contend also that high fat-induced changes in the clock and the adiponectin signaling pathway may help explain the disruption of other clock-controlled systems associated with metabolic disorders, such as blood pressure levels and the sleep/wake cycle.


How Some Vegetables Fight Cancer

Women should go for the broccoli when the relish tray comes around during holiday celebrations this season.

While it has been known for some time that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, can help prevent breast cancer, the mechanism by which the active substances in these vegetables inhibit cell proliferation was unknown — until now.

Scientists in the UC Santa Barbara laboratories of Leslie Wilson, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology, and Mary Ann Jordan, adjunct professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, have shown how the healing power of these vegetables works at the cellular level. Their research is published in this month's medical industry journal Carcinogenesis.

"Breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, can be protected against by eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and near relatives of cabbage such as broccoli and cauliflower," said first author Olga Azarenko, who is a graduate student at UCSB. "These vegetables contain compounds called isothiocyanates which we believe to be responsible for the cancer-preventive and anti-carcinogenic activities in these vegetables. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts have the highest amount of the isothiocyanates.
Sulforaphane or SFN,.. has already been shown to reduce the incidence and rate of chemically induced mammary tumors in animals. It inhibits the growth of cultured human breast cancer cells, leading to cell death.

SFN like the more powerful anticancer agents,..[works] in a similar manner to the more powerful anticancer drugs. However SFN is much weaker than these other plant-based drugs, and thus much less toxic.

"SFN may be an effective cancer preventive agent because it inhibits the proliferation and kills precancerous cells," said Wilson. It is also possible that it could be used as an addition to taxol and other similar drugs to increase effective killing of tumor cells without increased toxicity.


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Low-carb diets Can Lead to Poor Thinking

A new study from the psychology department at Tufts University shows that when dieters eliminate carbohydrates from their meals, they performed more poorly on memory-based tasks than when they reduce calories, but maintain carbohydrates.A Confused Owl When carbohydrates were reintroduced, cognition skills returned to normal.

"This study demonstrates that the food you eat can have an immediate impact on cognitive behavior," explains Holly A. Taylor, professor of psychology at Tufts and corresponding author of the study. "The popular low-carb, no-carb diets have the strongest potential for negative impact on thinking and cognition."

Taylor collaborated with Professor Robin Kanarek, former undergraduate Kara Watts and research associate Kristen D'Anci. The study, "Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood," appears in the February 2009 edition of the medical industry journal "Appetite."

While the brain uses glucose as its primary fuel, it has no way of storing it. Rather, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is carried to the brain through the blood stream and used immediately by nerve cells for energy. Reduced carbohydrate intake should thus reduce the brain’s source of energy. Therefore, researchers hypothesized that diets low in carbohydrates would affect cognitive skills.

"Although the study had a modest sample size, the results showed a clear difference in cognitive performance as a function of diet," says Taylor.

"The data suggest that after a week of severe carbohydrate restriction, memory performance, particularly on difficult tasks, is impaired," Taylor explains..

While the study "only tracked dieting participants for three weeks, the data suggest that diets can affect more than just weight," says Taylor. "The brain needs glucose for energy and diets low in carbohydrates can be detrimental to learning, memory, and thinking."

Source: Tufts University News

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Why Are Personal Care Products Harmful?

We use thousands of personal care products today, which are nothing but a compilation of thousands of chemical substances. And research suggests some of these may cause ecological harm.

Personal care product and toiletries (viz. fragrances, soaps) refers to the manufacturers of consumer products used for beautification and in personal hygiene.

If the EPA is to be believed, then the waterbodies in the US have pharmaceuticals present in them. And many of these land up in the environment form medicated cosmetics products that are used. While scientists haven't yet found proof of adverse human health effects from in the environment, it doesn't mean that it's not happening. But it's still good news because rigorous inquiry is the bedrock of science.

Personal care products and pharmaceuticals have in all probability been present in water and the environment since they were invented. Today it's a big industry (US $40 billion) with many major players and numerous who deal in wholesale cosmetics trading. The problem arises when the products we consume are not completely absorbed by our bodies, and are then excreted and flow into wastewater and surface water.

Some common personal care items that contribute to the phenomenon are fragrances, cosmetics, and sun-screen skin care products. However, not all products end up like this, rather it varies. For instance, some are easily disintegrated and broken down by the human body or yield to environmental conditions, other which are difficult to break down enter domestic sewers, etc.

Recently, some personal care products were certified under the new natural seal and standard program. These products which must be made up of at least 95% truly natural ingredients make up for good candidates to break down easily.

Perhaps, when a majority of products comprise substances that can be easily disintegrated, or better ways to process them before they're discarded are discovered, the concerns would be alleviated.

How Happiness May Prevent Breast Cancer?

According to a new study, happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease.

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer after lung cancer and starts in the cells of the breast in men and women. The mainstay of its treatment is surgery and cancer drugs. The study has been conducted at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and published in the British journal BMC Cancer.

During the study, researchers asked women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis. Further, the researchers used this information to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and breast cancer among young women.

A total of 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 were interviewed: 255 breast cancer patients and 367 healthy women. The findings of the study show that there was a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease. On the other hand women who suffered two or more traumatic events had a 62 percent increased risk of the disease.

The researchers think that young women who have been exposed to a number of negative life events should be considered 'at-risk' for breast cancer and treated accordingly.

However, there's a possible pitfall that since the women were interviewed after their diagnosis, it could have made them recall negative events more readily. Also, recently, in a different study, the researchers had discovered that disclosing breast cancer diagnoses is itself quite a challenge.

Despite the skepticism the scientists believe that it's safe to say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event raises a red flag of risk for breast cancer among young women. However, a general feeling of happiness and optimism may have protective effect.

Additionally, the mechanism by which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behavior and external events affect these three systems is not fully understood. And it needs more research to figure out answers to these questions.

Recently, there's been some eye opening finds as a result of cancer research. For instance, see: Moisturized Mice Mean Skin Cancer. And that aside from the conventional pharmaceutical drugs, there's also the Power of Naturals Against Cancer.